Desesperanto by Marilyn Hacker
Poems 1999-2002

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One of our strongest poets of conscience confronts the dangerous new century with intelligence, urbanity, and elegiac humor.

Marilyn Hacker's voice is unique in its intelligence, urbanity, its deployment of an elegiac humor, its weaving of literary sources into the fabric and vocabulary of ordinary life, its archaeology of memory. Desesperanto refines the themes of loss, exile, and return that have consistently informed her work. The title itself is a wordplay combining the Spanish word esperanto, signifying "hope," and the French desespoir, meaning "to lose heart." Des-esperanto, then, is a universal language of despair —despair of the possibility of a universal language. As always in Hacker's poetry, prosodic measure is a catalyst for profound feeling and accurate thought, and she employs it with a wit and brio that at once stem from and counteract despair. Guillaume Apollinaire, June Jordan, and Joseph Roth are among this book's tutelary spirits, to whom the poet pays homage as she confronts a new, dangerous century.

About Marilyn Hacker

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The winner of the National Book Award,the PEN/Voelcker Award, and two LambdaLiterary Awards, Marilyn Hacker isthe author of twelve previous collectionsof poetry and fifteen collections of translations.She lives in Paris.
Published May 1, 2003 by W. W. Norton & Company. 128 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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Combining lucid, almost chatty autobiography, outspoken progressive politics and a casual mastery of elaborate forms, Hacker's work has won admiration for poems about city life, and (more recently) for translations of Francophone poets.

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Project MUSE

In these poems we see an amalgam at least of English and French, one that made me think of the Red Queen's instructions to Alice in Through the Looking-Glass: "'Speak in French when you can't think of the English for a thing - turn out your toes as you walk - and remember who you are!'" The equiv...

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